Surfing Heritage and Culture Center announced the winner of their 2019 Follow the Light (FTL) photography contest in a beautiful awards ceremony in Dana Point, CA.

Before the awards ceremony, Canto hosted a sold-out VIP reception at the observatory deck of the Ocean Institute, a small aquarium on the harbour. We said cheers to the talented finalists and continued legacy of surf photography over freshly made palomas and sweeping ocean views.

Don Meek, chairman of the FTL contest committee, and Glenn Brumage, SHACC’s executive director, spoke about the challenges of bringing back the contest after its four-year hiatus. When SHACC took over the contest this year, they needed a technology partner to help them run it efficiently on a global scale.

“From the start, Canto has gone above and beyond to help us make Follow the Light a global contest,” said Don.

Jack Huber, Canto’s head of community, expressed how sponsoring the FTL contest aligns with Canto’s values.

“We are always looking to partner with organizations doing things we believe in. SHACC’s mission of empowering amateur photographers to get a jump start in their career – that’s right in line with everything we stand for. Canto exists to foster creative collaboration in an increasingly chaotic world, so teaming up with SHACC was a very natural partnership.” said Jack.

An audience listening to a presentation.
Photo courtesy of SHACC

The awards ceremony opened with a tribute to Larry “Flame” Moore, the late photo editor of Surfing Magazine. The FTL contest is held in honor of Moore’s memory, because he mentored so many young photographers throughout his career. The five contest finalists presented their photos and had the opportunity to talk about their inspirations and personal journeys as photographers.

Nick Green from Tasmania, Australia, was announced as the winner. He spoke about how photography keeps him going through mental illness.

The winner receiving his award.
Photo courtesy of SHACC

“Struggling with mental health was probably my biggest influence to take photos,” Nick said. “Put simply, photography gave me something to do, something to take my mind off things when they got dark, a creative outlet to express myself and immerse myself in the present moment, which at that point in my life I was really struggling with. Photography was the therapy that I didn’t know I needed.”

Nick’s photos have a dark and moody style that draws inspiration from his rugged, beautiful homeland of Tasmania. We can’t wait to see more from him, and with the awesome working opportunities he earned as part of FTL’s grand prize, we’re sure we will!

An award winning photo: Distrubed Clarity by Nick Green
Distrubed Clarity by Nick Green (just one of Nick’s incredible photos)

SHACC also announced the People’s Choice winner, Shane Grace, from Huntington Beach, CA. The other finalists are Paul Greene, Ryan Mack and Nolan Sullivan.

Read more about the contest and event here and see all the finalists’ work here.

Catherine Chiang - Content Marketing Specialist I Canto

As a content marketing specialist at Canto, Catherine is dedicated to sharing stories that inspire, motivate and educate. Based in San Francisco, Catherine helps our customers tell their stories.